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Hughes: Ireland will be future captain of City

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes has tipped Stephen Ireland to be captain of the Eastland's club in the future.

Despite handing Kolo Toure the armband on Tuesday, following the transfer of former skipper Richard Dunne to Aston Villa, the City boss had nothing but praise for the 23-year-old academy graduate.

Ireland is still one of the first names on Hughes' team sheet despite the arrival of a number of star names at big-spending City and the Irishman lead the side in the warm up to the current Premier League campaign.

"Stevie really enjoyed having the armband back in pre-season and I am sure in future he will be a Manchester City captain," Hughes told the club's official website. "It is pleasing that we have so many characters and personalities in the group, all of whom could have taken the role."

Former Arsenal defender Toure captained City at Crystal Palace and Portsmouth immediately before the international break and won the armband ahead of a number of alternative candidates, including Gareth Barry, Shay Given, Craig Bellamy and Nigel de Jong.

Meanwhile, Hughes has defended executive chairman Garry Cook in the wake of Dunne's exit. The popular Republic of Ireland star accused Cook of trying to sell him behind his back and claimed he was ignorant of the "core loyalty" in football.

However, Hughes sees a different side to Cook's character and questions Dunne's assessment.

"It is a little bit unfair to highlight Garry and his perceived role in discussions," said the City chief. "It wasn't as if Richard was forced out of the club."

"He was the only one who signed a piece of paper to change from being a City player to an Aston Villa player."

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